When You Give A Teen A Platform

I walked up to the stage at the United Nations on Aug. 11, looked out at the 193 delegates and my heart skipped a beat. Seated in the UN delegate seats were the people who are changing the world: 193 young women a/k/a Youth Delegates.

Event: International Year of Youth Culmination Celebration powered by our organization in collaboration with the UN and Monique Coleman, UN Youth Champion.

Goal: Celebrate the first International Year of Youth to occur in 25 years and give teens the stage to discuss global and social change with the media -- what's happening and why youth and adults must join together to address these challenges. This was a moment in time- - time to rebrand their generation. Their platform was the ultimate stage: United Nations.

When you give a teen girl a platform -- when you honor and engage her at a high level -- you reach her at a whole different level, and the impact is tremendous.

She's changing the world.

She's a believer.

She's the Facebook generation.

She'll take an idea and move it forward on a grand scale because of social media.

She doesn't have geographical borders or limitations.

She dreams big.

She takes action in bite-size pieces, building organically and authentically.

She's the new celebrity.

She wants to partner with brands that are authentic in their mission to change the world.

The panels put the spotlight on 14 award winners 14 A.L.L.Y. Award Winners -- young women who are changing the world. Each panelist was asked a question by the press.

Below is a sampling. The entire UN session is here.

Julie Auslander, Fast Company: "What challenges do you foresee in your work and how do you hope to address them?"

Allison Wu (Minga): "Getting the word out is the hardest part. We need to let people know what we're doing so they can get involved and make a change as well. In my work to fight the sex trade, we have to address the image the public sees of it. For example, 50 Cent's widely viewed video for "PIMP" glamorizes the child sex trade, making it seem okay. To address these issues, we need to dream big. Break each action down into smaller steps and take them one by one. You can ask people to help with the smaller steps and, ultimately, you'll reach your vision."

Christie Garton, USA Today: "What inspires you?"

Leora Friedman (Music is Medicine): "Today is inspirational! With my organization, working with children in hospitals who are dealing with major medical issues but are still so strong, I'm inspired by them. I recently helped a 13 year old with bone cancer get her wish to have a Skype conversation with Drew Seely, an actor in "Another Cinderella Story." He's writing a song for her. But after she talked with him, she told me that she was glad to have met ME! We have the ability to impact other people's lives and make a difference for others, and that is truly inspiring."

Magic Happened. From their seats at the UN, via social media, delegates supercharged our movement for girls and women to join together to change the world. Our connection with these teens is built on trust and honor. It's deep. It's genuine. It's priceless. It wasn't part of a marketing plan. It happened because we followed asked questions and their answers led our actions. We're taking the advice from our youngest award winner, 10 year-old Morgan Jankowski, Founder of Fighting for A Cause:

Follow your heart.

Read the paper and watch the news to see what is needed in your community.

Start small. Don't try to reach $5,000 on your first fundraiser.

Start a website.

Have fun and be passionate. You'll receive more than you give.

Tags: teens
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